If you want to produce delicious pulled pork recipe, you MUST start with a good quality raw product.
Knowing how to select the perfect butt is crucial. I cook fresh not frozen 8-10 lb. Boston Butts. Either way, I always get the product fresh from my local butcher.
When selecting a butt it is important to know exactly what you are looking for. First off I want a butt that has a large money muscle on the front.
The Money Muscle is the best part of the butt. It is located on the end that is farthest from the round bone. It is very tender and when properly cooked, it can even be sliced with a sharp knife.
Also look for a butt that has a big horn muscle or meat under the y of the blade bone. This meat is almost as tender as the money muscle and since it is right next to the bone, its packed with flavor.
Money Muscle and Sections of a Pork Butt Video
Tell your butcher exactly what you are looking for, and he should be able to help you select the best cuts of meat. Often my butcher lets me go back into the meat cooler and sort through his inventory myself. and FYI… It never hurts to bring some BBQ too, keeping the butcher happy is a good idea.
Preparing your Pulled Pork Recipe for cooking
I always inject pork butts. This helps get moisture and flavor on the inside of the meat that Dry Rub alone cannot accomplish. You can get a cheap injector at the grocery store and it will get the job done.
Pulled Pork Recipe Injection:
1 cup Apple Juice
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Salt
1 TBS Soy Sauce
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
This injection is enough to use for two 8-10lb Boston butts.
Place the meat in an aluminum pan and begin injecting. Insert the injection needle into the meat and press down on the plunger. Don’t pull the needle all of the way out of the injection site. Instead, go in at a different angle and inject again.
I do this 3 times at each injection site and move it around the entire butt. There will be some injection that seeps out. This is normal.
Once you get the butts injected, place them in a large zip-lock bag, pour any injection that seeped out over the butt, and place in a refrigerator or on ice. You want the butt to marinate for at least 4 hours.
Take the butt out of the zip-lock bag and place on a working surface. Drain it completely and pat dry with paper towel and let it come up to room temp for about 30 – 45 minutes.
The next step is to apply a good quality dry rub. You can use any dry rub that you like. But we always use our own recipe, Killer Hog’s The BBQ Rub.
First, coat the butt with a couple of tablespoons of plain ole yellow mustard. This will create a means for the rub to stick to the meat. Then liberally sprinkle the dry rub over the meat and gently massage it into the meat.
Proper Smoking Technique for Pulled Pork Recipe
Get your smoker up to proper temperature. I cook butts at 225 degrees and use seasoned Cherry Wood chunks for the smoke.
The length of cooking can be a little tricky to figure out, but a good rule of thumb is 1 to 1 (hours of smoke per lb of meat). But I like to always have a meat thermometer handy and strictly go by internal temperature. You are shooting for an internal temperature of 195 degrees for perfect pulled pork.
Once you have your butt on the smoker, its time to make your mop.
Pulled Pork Mop Recipe:
16 oz Vegetable Oil
16 oz Cider Vinegar
32 oz water
1 cup of dry rub
2 TBS Worcestershire
2 TBS Soy Sauce
Whisk all of these ingredients together. (I use very hot water to dissolve the dry rub).
Mop this baste on the butts after 2 hours of smoking. Then mop again after every 2 hours.
After 6 hours of smoke and basting, check the internal temperature. It should be around 165 degrees. At this point you have enough smoke now its time to get them tender.
The Tenderization Process for Pulled Pork Recipe
You want to remove the butts from the smoker and wrap them in aluminum foil. Place the aluminum foil on the work surface, sit the butt on the aluminum foil, mop the butt with baste and reapply a light dusting of the dry rub. Wrap the butt up tight in the aluminum foil and place it back on the smoker.
It is helpful to use a digital meat thermometer with a probe to monitor your internal temperature the entire cooking time. This is one piece of equipment that is extremely useful, and it keeps you from having to constantly open up the door to check with a manual thermometer.
And if you are constantly opening the door, then your meat will not achieve the proper tenderness. Every time the temperature in your smoker drops, your meat begins to lock back up resulting in a product that is tough. You have to keep the temperature steady to keep the meat cooking. This is exactly why they say, If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.
If you BBQ often, then I recommend investing in a good thermometer with a probe. I like the DOT Thermometer from Thermoworks.
If you have a thermometer with a probe, place it inside the meat (careful not to get it against the bone or you’ll get a false reading) and wrap the aluminum foil around the butt. Place the meat back on the smoker and continue cooking.
Your meat has enough smoke, so adding more wood to the fire is not necessary at this point. Now you are simply rendering the tough connective tissue of the butt and producing tender, mouth watering meat.
The butt needs to go to 195 degrees internal and this will take some time.
Typically, it will hit a plateau or stall at about 175 and will sit there for what feels like an eternity. It is important to keep a constant pit temperature during this process. Don’t open the smoker door and don’t unwrap the butt – not for any reason – no exceptions! This is the method will produce the best BBQ you’ve ever cooked and it is what wins contest.
The Final Steps for Pulled Pork Recipe
Once the butt has climbed to an internal temperature of 195 degrees you are ready to pull it off the smoker.
BUT BE CAREFUL. it will be extremely hot and there will be a lot of au just that has cooked out of the meat. Transferring the butt to an aluminum pan will make this process easier and allows you to catch the liquid.
Open the aluminum foil very carefully and allow some of the steam to escape. Drain off as much liquid as possible from the butt, re-rap it in aluminum foil and place it in a dry cooler for resting. It will keep hot for up to 4 hours.
Appearance Is Everything with this Pulled Pork Recipe!
To create a beautiful Mahogany look on the outside of the butt, I use a final glaze. This process takes about 30-45 minutes, and I do it just before building the blind box. Remove the butt from the holding cooler and unwrap as much foil as you can. It will tear away easy but you’ll want to use gloves because it will still be hot to the touch.
For the glaze I use my Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce. You can use whatever sauce that you like, but from my experience, Sweet with a little heat brings home the hardware. I also mix some of the warm pan drippings with the sauce usually just 2 to 3 tablespoons. This will thin the glaze down just a little and give it an extra punch of flavor.
Brush the glaze over the butt and return it to the smoker at 245 for hour. This bump in heat will caramelize the bark just right.
If you follow this procedure, then you will have a Pulled Pork Recipe you can brag about. It will blow any other BBQ out of the water, bar none.
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I like pig butts and I cannot lie! This recipe is well worth the work, cannot get enough. It is nice to have a food saver to freeze the left overs for Malcolm’s baked beans recipe or pulled pork sandwiches.
I got into smoking a few years ago and jumped in with both feet, some ok, some bad. But once I came across Malcolm reeds howtobbqright pulled pork recipe what a game changer!!! It took a little time but we got it down ( I was told one time I should open a restaurant, I laughed, he than explained to me how I didn’t understand. He knows pork and this pork would me JESUS HAPPY!!! Well done Malcolm and thank you for sharing!!
It was great to meet you at Smoke on the Shores this weekend. I am curious to know if you stick 100% to your competition recipes like these knowing that there is potentially at least 1 other team using it? Lately, we’ve struggled with wowing the judges with good pork so we are back to the drawing board. I would be curious to use this recipe at a competition to see if our scores improve versus our recipe.
This recipe is pretty old. I have a comp pork butt recipe but it’s always evolving to match the trends of the day. This was my recipe from over 5 years ago – so it’s changed a little.
Malcolm, can’t find a video on your competition pork butt anymore where did it go?
Is this the one? https://howtobbqright.com/2018/01/08/pulled-pork-recipe/
What kind of salt do you use in your pork butt injection?
Do you ever wet or dry brine anything you smoke? Is there reason to or not to? I feel like it would help flavor the meat on the inside. Or am I just wasting my time doing so?
Brines work great if you have the time. Whole Turkeys, chicken, Pork loin, and even Pork Butt are all great in a brine. You can really get some flavor into the meat.
Do you still inject – or not?
Waking up in few hours to give this a shot. First smoke of the spring season . In goods hands cuz Malcom has yet to fail me.
Malcolm, I have been a fan for a few years. Today is Independence Day, and I have a Boston Butt on the smokie! Prepped up real good like you’ve taught. Got me some Killer Hogs rub on it, and some of your sauce for finishing. I love what you do, and I learn new methods with your Teachings..
Have yourself a Great 4th of July, 2018…. Gotta go check the internal temp!!! Stu
For the Pulled Pork Mop Recipe, it seems like a lot. If I’m smoking 1 pork butt, is halving it too much? Or do you think quartering the recipe will be enough?
You can also just use 50/50 apple juice and apple cider vinegar – that is what I usually use now.
Is it really 1/2 cup of salt in injection recipe?
Great recipe, I actually won a pulled pork cook off at work with it. Thanks for the great info and very detailed write up, the only thing I’d change is a tad less salt overall in the recipe (I’m nitpicking my own food haha) , but it was still the talk of the office. I will be making this exact recipe again soon.
Big Congrats! that is awesome!
That’s funny, I have entered into a pulled pork off here at my office for our halloween potluck. I’m still fairly new to smoking, I have an Oklahoma Joes offset smoker, and so far my ribs weren’t quite done enough, and I sliced my brisket too soon and it dried out. My bacon turkey and chicken are spot on. Any good pointers, which kind of wood, etc, to help me out? The girl I’m going up against is pretty talented. Don’t wanna lose!!
Just get your cooker fired up and put your pork butt on – let it cook until the color is right on the outside and wrap it in foil. Then let it cook until it hits 198 internal.
Is it fat side up or down
depends on where your heat is coming from. If it’s coming from the top – go fat side up. If it’s coming from the bottom, go fat side down.
How long do I put it back on the smoker for the glazing process?
Your post says 245 degrees for how long. By the way I just ordered your bbq rub and bbq sauce and I plan on putting to use this weekend…
about 15-20 minutes.
Hey Malcom, new fan here!
Im doing my first smoke party today and im excited to do it. The host had a last minute fail with their meat so now im waiting for mh local butcher shop to open up. He is kind enough to get me some pork shoulder trimmings to make the pulled pork.
I have a plan and hopefully everything turns out. Not a good time to be experimenting…..
Do I need to pull money muscle early or will it slice and stay together at 195. Trying to move up the comp ladder been holding at 5th for 3 years now. Hoping your technique will give me a bump
No, it’s not going to slice if the rest of the pork butt is hitting 195-198. You either have to cook the entire pork butt so just the muscle is reading around 195 (and the rest of the butt of under). Or you have to remove it once it hits that temp.
how long do you keep in dry cooler
I like to let it rest in a dry cooler for at least 30 minutes.. but it’s even better if you let it rest for 2-3 hours.
Malcolm, this was a fantastic recipe. I’m relatively new to the site and the YouTube channel, but love your stuff. Have already purchased the products as well. This was the best pork shoulder I’ve ever made. I’m a northeast guy with a Weber propane grill and a Masterbuilt electric smoker (please don’t shame me, hahahaha ). It was so succulent and everyone from the kids to the adults were asking for seconds and thirds! I look forward to continuing to use your products and recipes!
Hey. Malcom . Entering my first competition at the end of April .we have a 275 drum made into a cooker we have cooked about 4 cooks on it . We have dealt with all kinds of weather . This last cook we did the weather was in 50’s .we cook with hickory wood .we have fire barrel and when coals are ready we shovel in but we can’t seem to get the cooker to hold temp at 225 for more that 5 minutes before we have to add more coals Is that normal for that kinda of cooker. Your thoughts .
With a drum smoker you shouldn’t have any issue getting it up to 225 – usually the problem is you can’t keep it from running hotter. It all comes down to air flow. I suggest firing up the cooker and working with the airflow until you learn that pit. Here is some info https://howtobbqright.com/2017/05/24/smoker-temperature-control/
Hey Malcom, I have used this recipe many times and everyone loves it. Thank you for providing it to us all!
I recently got a good deal (FREE) on a Smoke Hollow cabinet smoker and I am going to try a butt on it. What recommendations do you have for the liquid and wood combinations? Would you recommend the same cook times as well? I’ve never cooked on an electric smoker so any advise would be nice.
Just keep it simple, hold the temps steady and watch your internal temps.
Hey Malcom! I used your recipe a while back and it turned out incredible. I was thinking about brining the butt this time. Any suggestions on what to brine it in? Thanks for the help!
you can brine it in a basic salt/sugar brine but it does take a long time to effectively brine a pork butt
Hi Malcom, always enjoy and appreciate your recipes. Killer Hogs is my main line of seasonings. Planning to do 4 8# butts on my Yoder 640s at the same time. You mentioned 1# meat to 1 hour smoke. That’s 32 hours. I know it’s about IT of the meat. Just trying to figure out cooking schedule. Looking for advice. Thanks David
You would go by the time it takes to cook 1 on a Yoder 640 – As long as you have plenty of airflow around the butts, it will not increase the cook time from cooking 1 butt to 4 butts much. At the most, it might increase it by 1-2 hours. But give yourself plenty of time and you can always hold them in a dry cooler until it’s time to serve.
Hey Malcolm, I love your site, recipes and product! I’m trying this pork butt recipe for the first time for the 4th. Other than changing your mop from the original recipe to the 50/50 apple juice and apple cider vinegar, are there any other changes? Wish I’d read the comments before a I used a whole cup of your delicious BBQ rub 🙂
No, just make the recipe your own!
Hey Malcom- I’m working on a “Butt Sale” fundraiser for my Shriners BBQ Team. What are your thoughts on dropping these in a foil pan for the duration of the cook, then putting foil over the top for the wrap phase?
Always a hit! I’ve made this many times with your exact recipe. I’ve also made minor “happy to glad” adjustments based on my family’s personal preferences. If you follow his method you can’t possible mess up. This pork turns out so juicy and flavorful. Save the juices and don’t waste them! We make an incredible “Pork French Dip” with the jus.
Malcom thanks for helping turn this novice into a pro! Well, pro at least as far as family and friends are concerned. But else matters right?
Hey Malcom, The recipe sounds great! I have made many of your recipes and they always come out amazing. However, this recipe is missing the links to the photos and I’m not seeing a button to print the recipe, either. Just FYI.
In progress of making this recipe today! Never had a bad experience following any of your videos or recipes. My question with this one though is after I made the mop, it appears like way to much, how much mop should I be using?
Hi Malcom, can you inject the meat the night before the cook?
This recipe is my go to for pulled pork. I like to add a bit more heat. Thank you MR.
Organizing my first ever Smoke Master Cookoff on Oct. 2. Gonna do pork butt and baby back ribs. Smoking on a Pit Boss Pro vertical cabinet pellet smoker. Using your pork butt recipe and hoping for the best.
I used this recipe and cook for the first time last summer. My family and friends thought I’d done this many times as it turned out so good. Malcolm, I found myself using white oak for my heat, yes took a lot of trips to keep my temp up, is it the same if I just use charcoal for heat and half cuts of cherry/apple for my smoke? I am trying to master the smoking and still learning to control my fire but keep the clear, whispy quality of smoke, any tips.
Hey Malcolm can you use that injection on a pork loin to?